Food Network Magazine features 'Wild Game Chili Cook-Off'

The Food Network Magazine featured our annual 'General Assembly Wild Game Chili Cook-Off' in its January 2014 issue, including the moose chili recipe from five-time winners Harold Ellis and Ron Tillett. Check out the story and recipe HERE or read below.

Championship Bowl
No dish has sparked more competition across the country than good old-fashioned chili
January/February 2014 — Food Network Magazine

We would love to explain how chili became America’s most hotly contested dish, but the truth is, we just can’t figure it out. It isn’t pretty. It isn’t particularly complicated. It doesn’t even have a solid backstory—some people say women in San Antonio sold it out of carts in the late 1800s, while others swear that Texas cattle drivers created it on the trails. Here’s what we do know: In 1967, two journalists—H. Allen Smith from Holiday magazine and Frank X. Tolbert from The Dallas Morning News—each claimed to make the best version, and they decided to settle the matter at a competition in Terlingua, TX. It ended in a tie, and it put chili lovers on an insatiable quest to find the best. There are now more than 600 cook-offs across the country every year, for every preference imaginable (red, green, super-spicy, vegetarian, kosher…). We asked champs from three top competitions to hand over their recipes, then we found a cook-off in every state so you can taste a winning dish in person.

Game On!
Every January or February, the Virginia Sportsmen’s Foundation, a volunteer group promoting outdoor activities, comes together for the Wild Game Chili Cook-Off in Richmond (virginiasportsmen.org). Competitors can use any combination of boar, bison, venison, kangaroo, bear, moose, dove, goose, pheasant, caribou, elk and, yes, even beef. Harold Ellis and Ron Tillett, winners of the past four cookoffs, have used most of these meats in previous years, but last year’s recipe was strictly moose. “Moose has the best flavor,” Tillet says. “But you could use ground beef and it would still be great.”

Wild Game Chili Recipe
Active: 30 min l Total: 3ó hr l Serves: 6 to 8
1-1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
2 pounds ground moose or beef
2 cups chopped Vidalia or other sweet onions
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 28-ounce cans fire-roasted peeled whole tomatoes
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup diced bell peppers (any color)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 mild green chile pepper (such as Anaheim), seeded
and chopped (or a 4-ounce can green chiles, drained)
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 red or orange habanero chile pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 New Mexico chile pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2-1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
Kosher salt
1-1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup beer (or use water)
3 tomatoes

1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground meat and cook, stirring and breaking up the meat, until no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Add half each of the onions and garlic and cook, stirring, 10 more minutes; set aside.
2. Combine the fire-roasted tomatoes and tomato sauce in a large pot over medium heat and crush with a potato masher. Stir in the remaining onions and garlic, the bell peppers, parsley, green chile, jalapeños, habanero and New Mexico chile. Add the chili powder, ancho chile powder, chipotle chile powder, 2 teaspoons salt, the cumin, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and the beer. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 1 hour.
3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200° and lightly brush a baking sheet with olive oil. Cut the tomatoes in half and set cut-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tomatoes with more olive oil and sprinkle with salt; bake until darkened and wrinkled, about 1 hour.
4. Crush the tomatoes with the potato masher and add to the pot; cover and simmer 2 more hours. Season with salt.